Six things we learned from Brighton's defeat to Chelsea

Dale Stephens and Lewis Dunk close down Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata. Picture by Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)
Dale Stephens and Lewis Dunk close down Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata. Picture by Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)
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Brighton suffered a 2-0 defeat at Chelsea this afternoon as second-half goals from Alvaro Morara and Marcos Alonso took the Blues to all three points. Here's six things we learned from the game.

Boxing Day form

Chelsea midfielder Eden Hazard passes the ball under pressure from Dale Stephens. Picture by Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)

Chelsea midfielder Eden Hazard passes the ball under pressure from Dale Stephens. Picture by Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)

The teams have had contrasting Boxing Day fortunes in recent years - and things did not change at Stamford Bridge this afternoon.

Chelsea were unbeaten in 12 Premier League Boxing Day matches heading into the game - seven wins and five draws - while Albion have now not tasted a victory on Boxing Day in nine attempts, with six defeats and three draws.

The Seagulls made four changes from their 1-0 win over Watford on Saturday as Ezequiel Schelotto, Shane Duffy, Beram Kayal and Jose Izquierdo came into the starting line-up for Bruno, Connor Goldson, Anthony Knockaert and Pascal Gross.

Spanish striker Alvaro Moratta returned to the Chelsea squad after serving a one-game ban, while Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabergas also returned to the starting line-up from their 0-0 draw with Everton.

Morata got Chelsea's opener a minute into the second half, before Marcos Alonso got the second as the Blues eased to all three points.

Captain Dunk

Lewis Dunk was given the captain's armband for the game against the team he supported as a kid.

The 26-year-old admitted it had been an honour to run out as captain at Wembley, when Bruno was on the bench for the 2-0 defeat at Tottenham, and today would have again been a proud moment with his family all Chelsea fans.

Dunk's family dog is named after Chelsea legend Didier Drogba and he became a Blues fan as he idolised former Chelsea captain John Terry growing up.

Speaking in the build-up, Dunk had said his sole focus at Stamford Bridge would be getting a positive result for Albion. After a excellent first half performance, Brighton were slow out of the traps in the second half and paid the price.

Not you again!

Referee MIke Dean refereed a second Albion match in the space of ten games.

The official oversaw Brighton's 1-0 win at Swansea without much incident - his first Seagulls match since the promotion-decider at Middlesbrough in May, 2016.

Albion fans were quick to let Dean know they haven't forgotten the match at Boro when he sent off Albion midfielder Dale Stephens for a foul on Gaston Ramirez.

He awarded Chelsea a corner right in front of the visiting supporters, who felt their team should have received a goal kick. Several chants were then aimed at Dean but the corner came to nothing and Albion continued to produce a resolute performance for the rest of the first half.

Stephens was booked for a foul on Alvaro Morata in the second half - if only Dean had shown Stephens yellow at Boro instead of red, how different would things have been?

But, overall, Dean had a fairly quiet afternoon's work.

Slow out of the traps

After such a strong defensive performance in the first half, Brighton were punished for a lack of concentration within 60 seconds of the second period.

Cesar Azpilicueta was afforded too much room and his right-wing cross was headed home by Alvaro Morata, who had been left unmarked just eight yards from goal.

It left Brighton with a mountain to climb as they only had their first shot on target in the 54th minute and that was a Davy Propper volley which was comfortably saved by Thibaut Courtois.

Albion have performed well against the top sides so far this season, though, and there were again positives to take as they frustrated a star-studded line-up for 45 minutes.

Set-piece problems

Brighton had kept back-to-back clean sheets heading into the game, against Burnley and Watford, but their Achilles heel of conceding from corners came back to haunt them again at Stamford Bridge.

The Seagulls have conceded goals from corners in the past two months to Stoke, Manchester United, Liverpool and Huddersfield and from a free kick close to the touchline against Tottenham.

Today, Marcos Alonso got a run on his man to leave him unmarked at the front post and he guided a header into the far corner to make it 2-0 on the hour and wrap up all three points for Chelsea.

Albion pride themselves on being hard to break down but teams have been able to score too easily recently.

Big Festive games to come

After winning at home to Watford on Saturday, this was almost a free game for Brighton where anything would have been a bonus.

The next two matches are much more important and will be more of a factor in which division Albion will be in next season.

Brighton remain 12th in the Premier League and face huge matches against Newcastle and Bournemouth in the space of three days.

They travel to Newcastle on Saturday, with a 3pm kick-off, before hosting the Cherries less than 48 hours later at the Amex. A decent points haul will leave Albion in a strong position heading into the January transfer window.